Wildcats Shine on Summer Baseball Stage
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fifteen Kentucky baseball players spent part of their summer gaining additional experience on the diamond after having the 2020 regular season cut short because of the Covid-19 pandemic that brought sports to a halt.
The Wildcats, led by National co-Freshman of the Year John Rhodes, shined in the Coastal Plain League, Northwoods League and College Summer League at Grand Park, making the most of the opportunities those leagues presented. A look at how each player performed:
- ORAJ ANU (OF) – Played for the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League…Teamed with current Wildcat Alonzo Rubalcaba…In 97 at-bats, hit .330 with 32 hits, 20 runs scored, five doubles, three home runs and 17 RBI…Posted a .402 on-base percentage and slugged .474 for an .876 OPS…Stole three bases…Had nine multi-hit games, including four three-hits outings…Twice had back-to-back games with three hits…Scored multiple runs six times and had five games with at least two RBI…Ranked second on the team in average.
- T.J. COLLETT (1B) – Played seven games in the College Summer League at Grand Park…Clubbed a home run, drove in three runs and scored a pair of runs in just 16 at-bats…Drew five walks and struck out only twice…Had an .867 OPS despite significant time off after the 2020 regular season.
- RON COLE (RHP) – Played for the Green Bay Booyah of the Northwoods League along with UK teammate Harrison Cook…Appeared in eight games out of the bullpen…Struck out 13 and earned a save in 16.0 innings…Did not allow a run in three of his final four outings over 5.1 innings.
- HARRISON COOK (RHP) – Played for the Green Bay Booyah of the Northwoods League along with UK teammate Ron Cole…Appeared in six games, starting five…Went 1-1 with a 4.56 ERA in 23.2 innings of work…Allowed 22 hits and struck out 21…Opponents batted .259 and he posted a 1.31 WHIP…Named Northwoods League Pitcher of the Night for July 27 after allowing just one run and four hits in 5.0 innings while striking out eight…Allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of six appearances…In back-to-back starts on July 20 and 27 he struck out 12 and allowed just five hits and one run in 10.2 innings.
- ALEX DEGEN (RHP) – Played for the Savannah Bananas of the Coastal Plain League…It was the second consecutive summer in Savannah for Degen…Appeared in seven games with four starts…Posted a 4.70 ERA in 15.1 innings, striking out 16 and walking only five…Allowed only four total earned runs in his first six appearances, pitching to a 2.25 ERA before his final start.
- CHASE ESTEP (IF) – Played for the Rockford Rivets of the Northwoods League along with UK teammates Drew Grace, Zach Kammin and Kirk Liebert…Batted .250 in 68 at-bats (17 hits)…Led the Rivets with three home runs…Ranked second on the team in runs (18) and RBI (16)…Drew 13 walks as part of a .370 on-base percentage…Named NWL Player of the Night for July 13 after going 2-of-4 with three runs, four RBI, a walk a stolen base, a double and a three-run homer run…Clubbed a grand slam on July 6…Logged four multi-hit games and posted a .782 OPS.
- DREW GRACE (IF) – Played for the Rockford Rivets of the Northwoods League along with UK teammates Chase Estep, Zach Kammin and Kirk Liebert…Posted five multi-hit games in just 11 appearances…Batted .317 in 41 at-bats with eight runs scored, seven RBI and three stolen bases in four attempts…Drew five walks and struck out just three times…Had a .391 on-base percentage.
- BRENDAN HORD (C) – Named a College Summer League at Grand Park All-Star…Played for the Snapping Turtles, who finished runner-up in the postseason tournament…Batted .244 in 41 at-bats with nine runs and eight RBI…Smacked three doubles and a home run…Walked 16 times and struck out 12 times…Posted a .474 on-base percentage and part of an 864 OPS.
- ZACH KAMMIN (RHP) – Played for the Rockford Rivets of the Northwoods League along with UK teammates Chase Estep, Drew Grace and Kirk Liebert…Started five games, going 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 24.0 innings…Allowed just 18 hits, walked 12 and struck out 34…Punched out seven or more batters in four of his five outings and led the team in strikeouts…Registered 12.75 strikeouts per nine innings…Opponents batted just .205.
- ZACK LEE (RHP) – Played for the Fond Du Lac Dock Spiders of the Northwoods League…Was teammates with fellow Wildcats John Rhodes and Ryan Ritter…Started five games, going 2-0 with a 5.00 ERA in 18.0 innings…Struck out 16 and allowed 24 hits.
- KIRK LIEBERT (C/OF) – Played for the Rockford Rivets of the Northwoods League along with UK teammates Chase Estep, Drew Grace and Zach Kammin…Showed his versatility my playing multiple positions…Batted .289 in 45 at-bats…Scored 12 runs and drove in seven…Smacked four doubles…Walked 14 times and struck out 14 times…Led the team in stolen bases (four) and on-base percentage (.476)…Posted an OPS of .854.
- JAKE PLASTIAK (IF) – Played in the College Summer League at Grand Park…Helped push the Turf Monsters to the postseason tournament championship…In the semifinal, hit a game-tying two-run home run to extend the contest to extra innings…Had two hits, including a double, and drove in a run in the title game…In the playoffs, went 5-of-11 with two runs, six RBI, two doubles, a home run and three walks…Overall, batted .258 with six runs, four extra-base hits, eight RBI and an .862 OPS.
- JOHN RHODES (OF) – Played for the Fond Du Lac Dock Spiders of the Northwoods League…Shared a dugout with current Cats Ryan Ritter and Zack Lee…Batted a team-best .373 in 83 at-bats…Counted seven doubles and a home run amongst his 31 hits…Scored 25 runs and drove in 20…Walked 18 times and stole six bases in six attempts…Posted a .491 on-base percentage, .494 slugging mark and .985 OPS…Ranked in the NWL’s top eight in average, runs, doubles, on-base percentage and OPS at the time his season came to an end…Had eight multi-hit games, including a 4-for-5 performance on July 11…Posted an eight-game hitting streak…Reached base safely in 24 of 27 games.
- RYAN RITTER (IF) – Played for the Fond Du Lac Dock Spiders of the Northwoods League…Was teammates with fellow Wildcats John Rhodes and Zack Lee…Batted .259 in 85 at-bats across 29 games…Collected 22 hits, scored 11 runs and smacked five doubles while driving in 19 runs…Walked 15 times and was hit by five pitches as part of a .385 on-base percentage…Posted six multi-hit games.
- ALONZO RUBALCABA (C) – Played for the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League…Teamed with fellow Wildcat Oraj Anu…Batted .258 with 62 at-bats with 16 hits, 10 runs scored, three doubles, a triple and six RBI…Walked nine times against 13 strikeouts…Stole a pair of bases…Posted a .368 on-base percentage…Had three multi-hit games…On July 25 went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and a double.